The Freud Museum

Head of a Guardian Figure

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3444, Head of a Guardian Figure, Ming Dynasty; 15th-17th century

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Chinese
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 6 in. / 17 x 15 15.5 cm

This guardian figure’s intimidating looks, with furrowed brow and bared teeth, were intended to frighten away evil spirits from a temple or sacred tomb. It may be a dvarapala, a type of Buddhist guardian that protects entrances in pairs. The bodies of such figures are equally as dramatic as their faces, with exaggerated musculature and twisted poses full of movement. Such a fierce figure stands in contrast to the benevolent images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Although from the Ming Dynasty, the head is done in the style of the earlier Tang period (618-907), demonstrating a cultural interest in antiquity similar to Freud’s.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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